Memphis, TN – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-9) issued the following personal remembrance of Senator Edward M. (Ted) Kennedy (D-MA) who passed away last night.
“The United States has lost a great leader. Senator Kennedy influenced legislation affecting the oppressed, the poor, the disabled, the sick and countless students. He never lost those core values that he espoused in his presidential run and his Senate tenure -- even when he “sailed against the wind.”
“Senator Kennedy worked with Republicans, particularly Presidents Reagan, George H.W. and George W. Bush, and with Senator Orrin Hatch, to advance the causes he knew could make America better.
“On a personal note, I was proud to lead the efforts for Senator Kennedy’s 1980 presidential run in Shelby County, and serve as Kennedy delegate at that year’s Democratic Convention. I have treasured a photograph of him giving his famous speech about the dream never dying which sits on my desk.
“I was pleased to attend the birthday gala celebration for Senator Kennedy at the 2004 Democratic Convention held at the Boston Symphony Hall. Much to the Senator’s delight, he got a kick out of my distributing many of the “Kennedy for President in 1980” buttons that I still had. He joyfully directed the Boston Symphony.
“Senator Kennedy was a true statesman and worked to bring peace to Northern Ireland. I remember fondly seeing his trademark smile and humor in action when the Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) came to address a joint session of Congress.
“Senator Kennedy was a tireless advocate for comprehensive, affordable and quality health care, including access to mental health care. He led the charge on creating CHIP that has provided millions of uninsured children the chance to start out life healthy. He fought to preserve the vital health care safety nets of Medicare and Medicaid that have helped seniors and low-income families have access to prescription drugs and doctors. In recent years, his dream was to make sure that all Americans have access to health care. Though he charted the course by which we all are sailing by today, I regret that he couldn’t captain the ship long enough to see his dream become a reality.
“I will miss Senator Kennedy most for his unwavering optimism and persistent fight to make tomorrow better than today. I will miss his leadership and counsel as Congress moves forward on debating the health care legislation that was so close to his heart. My thoughts are with his son, and my friend and colleague, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, and the entire Kennedy family.”